President of the NY Landmarks Conservancy, Peg Breen, talks about a newly released report they commissioned which undermines the real estate industry's argument that preservation stifles growth, prevents affordable housing from being built, and only appeals to affluent white New Yorkers.
Breen dispelled the narrative of the cost of landmarking; in fact, they found it's a key to the city's economy. $800M is invested in restoration projects each year, $500M pays for local jobs, and heritage tourism is one of the main reasons come to NYC. And, an overwhelming number of tech company start-ups are located in historic districts.
In NYC, historic districts account for only 3.4% of all lots, though many are located in Manhattan. As Breen noted, all you have to do is look around to see there's massive growth occurring--last year was a record for construction, and it's predicted, this year will be a record for the creation of affordable housing. So, where is anything being stifled? Breen maintains preservation actually plays a role in maintaining affordable housing as many rent regulated apartments are located in older places. The report found historic districts don't increase rent more than it would outside a historic district.
As for REBNY' accusation landmarking is only an elitist concern, the facts don't support this. Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights in Brooklyn are recent examples of community residents--overwhelmingly minority--asking to become historic districts. In the outer boroughs, the same percentage of minorities live inside and outside historic districts, except in Staten Island where more minorities live within historic districts.
The report, said one researcher, should reshape the conversation about preservation in NYC.
Breen also discussed the recent controversial NY City Council law limiting the time period the Landmarks Preservation Commission will have to rule.